Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Gluten-Free Rice Krispie Treats

I have had a major craving for Rice Krispies lately. No idea why. Technically they are just puffed rice so I was surprised when I realized the normal box is not gluten free. Naturally I went online and discovered they do make a GF version. So when I got them in the mail a few weeks ago I was so excited to try them!

Unfortunately for some reason when Kellogg decided to make a gluten-free Rice Krispie Cereal they went with puffed brown rice. This led to a substandard gluten-full cereal replacement that combined with soy milk was so unappealing I dumped them down the sink and thanked goodness that we have a garbage disposal. I have yet to try them with cow's milk but I think they might be less yucky.

Marshmallow-y Goodness

Anyway, I really wanted to try to turn the cereal into something edible, preferably sweet, because I had four boxes full of them! On the back of the box there is the requisite recipe for Rice Krispie Treats. The wonderful news is that the gluten-free cereal makes fabulous Rice Krispie Treats! There is no weird after taste from the brown rice!

Gluten-Free Rice Krispies

4 cups of mini marshmallows or 40 regular sized ones
3 tablespoons of butter
6 cups of gluten-free rice krispies

Melt the butter and add the marshmallows. 
Melt the marshmallows and remove from heat.
Add the cereal and stir until all the cereal is coated.
Press the cereal mixture into a lightly buttered bar pan with a buttered spatula or wax paper.
Cut and enjoy!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Rat-A-Pa-Tootie aka Ratatouille

I have a spelling issue. It was always that stray B on a otherwise perfect report card. I could never remember the whole I before E except after C thing and any other spelling rule. For a long time I was incapable of spelling my own middle name which was horribly embarrassing. Even more embarrassing is the fact that my middle name is Maire Marie. Anyway! This has nothing what-so-ever to do with this next post except for the fact that I had to google it to write it out.

Ratatouille. Sounds confusing right? Difficult to make? Don't let the fact that they named a movie after it keep you from trying to make it! This was seriously one of the easiest things I have ever made. The quantities all depend on the number you are feeding and you can add or subtract according to taste. 

-Two small zucchini
-Two small summer squash
-1/2 a large onion
-Two cans of diced tomatoes (the medium-large size)
-Italian seasoning to size
-One tbsp of olive oil
-Shaved parmesan (enough to cover the size of the sauce pan you are using)

Peel, or don't peel, the veggies and chop into relatively thin disks and slice the onions thinly.
Heat olive oil in a medium-large sauce pan and saute the onions until they are a little soft.
Add the remaining veggies, except the tomatoes, and saute until translucent (ish).
Add the diced tomatoes and cover until bubbly and all veggies are very soft.
Uncover and sprinkle the cheese over the entire thing with a fairly heavy hand.
Cover until the cheese melts. Serve with pasta or chicken or alone!

For a slightly more formal version of this you can bake it in the oven at 350 until the veggies are tender. Stack the veggies in short piles alternating colors. Still cover with the diced tomatoes and cheese!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Golfing at Twilight

If you're a golfer you know that during the long dog days of July and August you can opt to golf in the late afternoon until the sun goes down on you. This is usually called "Twilight Golfing" or a "Twilight Gold Special." It's usually less expensive than a regular round because you're fighting time to finish. 

Personally, I much prefer golfing at this time because you are not baking in the mid-day sun, there are far fewer people on the course and you get spectacular sky-scapes and you might even get a glimpse of some real nature.

If you look very hard you can see a Red Hawk eating it's prey! I tried to get a good close up but I didn't have a zoom lens on me and he flew away after I got too close. He didn't fly away, however, until after three men tee'd off, apparently he doesn't mind dodging a few golf balls.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Rainy Day at the Riley's

This Sunday it rained. A lot. And Will doesn't like the rain. I attribute this to the fact that after we got him, it was the most rainy spring in years. Being a tiny puppy he had to be house trained and consequentially brought out in the pouring rain every few hours. If he didn't have to pee he would sit on our feet and look at us until we picked him up and brought him inside.

This Sunday, however, I did not want to sit inside while Will would most likely go stir crazy and eat some more of my shoes. It was raining buckets but was not thundering and lightening so we decided to go to the beach and try our hand at fishing.

Thank you, Will, for chewing our threshold. 

We were prepared with fishing rods, rain jackets, water shoes, striper-worthy bait, baseball caps and Will with his new life jacket. I anticipated the water being somewhat choppy and I also anticipated Will wanting to swim so I took some preventative measures and bought him a life jacket. You see, Will LOVES to swim. So much so that he usually doesn't know when to stop.

I usually have a minor panic attach when he goes out 40 yards into the ocean to fetch a stick or ball or buoy (yes he has a few of them) and he inhales water and paddles like a mad dog back to shore to spit it out. His new life jacket insures that his back is always slightly out of the water and there is an added piece that supports his snout and keeps him from inadvertently swallowing sea water.

Most importantly it allows him to float over waves instead of being taken over by them, waves being a constant occurrence at an ocean beach even on the nicest days. It also has a handle on the back that would allow for easy rescue. In this picture the chin strap isn't totally fastened because we were only in the house.

Despite initially only wanting to walk backwards in it, Will became quickly accustomed to it and did not scratch or whine once during the three hours he wore it. It has a soft neoprene lining and it Velcro's around his belly and also has added snaps for security. It's called a "Hound Saver" and I bought it at Petsmart for a very reasonable price. We got the Large which was for 50-70 pound dogs and fits him perfectly. Even though Will weighs about 73 pounds, the XL would have been swimming on him!

While at the beach I wished I had a water-proof camera so badly! I didn't risk bringing my camera or phone because of how wet it was outside. The rain even soaked though my jacket so it was a good call. Also we didn't catch any fish, not like I was expecting to anyway.

Stay tuned for more pictures of Will sporting his fancy new jacket!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Gluten-Free Banana Bread From Anna (and My Nana)

I bake a mean banana bread. Dense and chewy yet still melt in your mouth with a slightly stickier-than-the-rest top. Once again I owe the creation of this killer bread to my Nana, maiden name, Joy (this little bit of info comes useful later). We had a bunch of bananas that were a little too brown to eat so I wanted to put them to good use. Given my disastrous attempt at whoppie pies last week I was scared away from attempting my own gluten-free banana bread and when I saw this at a local health food store I jumped at the chance to try it.

Excuse the quality of the pictures, I was using my phone and I couldn't hold it still enough. Anyway the consistency of the batter was similar to the gluten-full version except it was slightly more viscous and of a darker hue, I'm guessing from the darker grained flours in the mix. 


Throughout the process I was planning on making a typical loaf of bread but when I actually took the loaf pan out I thought against it. I wanted this to last me a while and I knew a loaf of warm walnutty banana bread would be short lived in my house. 

My Nana use to make these raisin bran muffins and it made a massive batch so she always froze bags full of them. We would take them from the freezer, cut them in half and pop them in the toaster oven and then eat them covered in butter. I decided to take the same route. Luckily they froze really well!

This bread mix was pretty pricey but I think it was worth it for nearly two freezer bags full of super convenient breakfast foods. They even travel pretty well. I brought a couple of them with me on vacation and they defrosted on the trip up and I ate them the next morning.

But for those of you who don't need to eat gluten-free but are looking for a delicious banana bread recipe here is the one I have always used and has been raved over for decades. You can do it with or without walnuts but I much prefer the nutty version. It also calls for sour cream which lends it a very moist texture averse to drying out. 

This is ingredient intensive but makes a huge batch; two large loaves and around eight mini loaves depending on size of pan. Baking times vary greatly with large loaves taking up to an hour or muffins taking about 25-30 minutes.This bread also freezes exceptionally well but I like to give it a little extra protection with freezer paper and cling wrap or aluminum foil.

Sour Cream Banana Bread (A La Joy)
Dry Ingredients:
3 cups of flour
2 cups of sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsps baking soda
1 cup butter, melted
Wet Ingredients:
5 bananas, mashed
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sour cream
1 - 1 1/2 cups walnuts, to taste

Sift dry ingredients together and melted butter. Then add the pre-mashed bananas, eggs, vanilla and sour cream. Mix until completely combined, making sure to check for pockets of flour on the bottom of the bowl. Add in nuts and try not to over mix, the amount of these depends if you really like walnuts. You could also sprinkle them on top, but I like them incorporated. Grease and flour the loaf pans you are using.

If making muffins pour into paper cups and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into one comes out clean. Smaller loaves can take 30-40 minutes and larger loaves can take up to an hour. 

PLEASE CHECK REGULARLY because no one likes burnt anything! Once a toothpick, or cake tester, comes out clean they are done. Remember it is a moist bread! Enjoy!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Word of the Day


1.Randomly jumping from one subject to another.

"One might say The Life of (Kerin)Riley can be a desultory blog."

I'm currently studying for the GRE's...

Blueberry Cake

My Mom is practically famous for this cake. It is a light and fluffy treat with just the right amount of sweet with a sugary crunchy top contrasting perfectly against the tart blueberries. Unfortunately this tasty cake is not naturally gluten free but for those of you who can eat gluten, this is a sure bet if you're looking for something to have with tea or bring to a friend's house.

Blueberry Cake
1 1/2 cups of fresh blueberries
1/2 cup crisco
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

-Measure out 1 1/2 cups of fresh blueberries and make sure to remove all stems. Rinse and pat dry. Then sprinkle flour over them until all berries are coated. This will prevent them from all sinking to the bottom of the cake while baking. 

-In separate bowl cream 1/2 cup of crisco with 1 cup of white sugar. Add two well-beaten egg yolks (saving the whites for later).

-Mix 1 1/2 cup of flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt. In increments add 1/3 cup of milk and dry mix.

-Fold beaten egg whites into batter with 1 teaspoon of vanilla and 1 1/2 cup of floured blueberries.

-Butter and flour a shallow, round, oven safe dish. Pour in the batter and sprinkle top with white sugar.

-Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Gluten-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter No Bake Cookies

The summer months are tough for baking around here. This past month we have had a string of mini heat waves that have made our house feel like an oven. In order not to add insult to injury we avoid turning the actual oven on at all costs because the temperature in the house will soar.

To balance out our desire to be cool and also eat something sweet we have turned to our Nana's No Bake Cookies. Last week when the temperatures reached a sweltering level I was really hankering for something sweet and gluten-free. I went to get the ingredients out of our pantry for my favorite chocolate and coconut creations.

Unfortunately we were out of both Crisco (thanks to my Whoopie Pies) and coconut so I was out of luck. But a few weeks ago I had looked online to see if there are any other "no bake" cookie recipes and had found one for Peanut Butter Oatmeal No Bakes that looked promising. Instead of crisco it called for butter and did not contain any coconut. Also to make them gluten-free just replace with gluten-free oats and make sure you are using a new container of peanut butter!

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Oatmeal No Bake Cookies
2 cups of white sugar
1/2 cup of milk
1/2 cup of cocoa
1/2 tsp salt 
1/2 cup butter
1 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups of oatmeal (I used porridge oats not rolled oats)

-Mix sugar, milk cocoa, salt and butter in a medium/large saucepan. 
-Bring to a rolling boil for a whole minute. This is important because you need to cook the sugar to create a creamy and not grainy texture in the finished cookie.

-Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and vanilla.
-Add oatmeal, stir and let cool for about a minute.

-Scoop onto a cookie sheet covered with wax paper or aluminum foil.
-Let cool completely and enjoy!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Kerin's Must See Places in Ireland

Must See Destinations in Ireland

Here are a few places I would highly recommend going if you have the time to spend in Ireland! I would suggest you getting a Heritage Card, which you can buy at any historic site run by the OPW. I traveled almost entirely by Bus Eireann which I found a very useful resource. 

Also check out the different tour companies and what they offer. There are so many of them that they generally offer very affordable rates! I liked Healy's, McCoole Tours, and Mary Gibbon's Tours. I avoided the "Paddy Wagon Tours" because they are an English company and their rates are in Pounds and are very very expensive! Also try to become familiar with Irish folk lore as many of the landscapes have stories to accompany their creation.

-Dublin, Co. Dublin:
     -Dublin Castle: Take a tour because the building is so cool and they give you a great history of the place. Your heritage card can be used here!
     -Jameson: It's a touristy must but if you get a good guide its worth it. Careful though because Smithfield where its located can be a little rough.
     -Guinness: Also in a rough area, i wasn't hugely impressed but the bar has good views of Dublin. When you go there do Jameson on the same day. Take the "Luas" (pronounced lewis) which is kind of like the T from Smithfield to St James Gate. Its a long, long walk and confusing bus ride but the Luas gets you right there!
      -Croke Park: It's where all the GAA games are held and it has a really interesting history. You can get a tour from them and I would definitely recommend it. Also try really hard to see a hurling or (Gaelic) football match!

-Aran Islands, Co. Clare: The Pier B & B is nice. Rent a bike right across the street and see the entire island. Eat at TI Joe Watty's! You can take a ferry there from Galway but plan to go later in the semester, around April because ferries only start running regular (and convenient) trips there once the weather improves.

-Derry/Belfast and Northern Ireland: Your program will probably have a trip there, I wouldn't recommend going by yourself. We also visited the Carrick A Rede Rope Bridge and the Giant's Causeway and they were both beautiful areas. 

-Kinsale, Co. Cork: The food anywhere here is amazing. If you like fish and chips there's a place called "Fishy Fishy Shop" and they only sell that. We stayed at the Carlton Kinsale which is a little pricy if you're on a strict budget but the views are worth it. Charles Fort is a must see! Desmond Castle also has an interesting history. They are both places your heritage card will get you in for free. The views of Kinsale Harbor from Charles Fort are spectacular! Walk along Sicily Way to get back into town from the fort.

-Galway City, Co. Galway: Griffin's Bakery is the place to eat breakfast, they have an upstairs too so don't think you have to get food for "take away." The original Claddagh ring jewelry shop is there, it's called Thomas Dillon's and they also have a claddagh ring museum. Galway is home of the National University of Ireland at Galway and the city is very vibrant and full of students. The night life is very fun! Check out Tis Coli and the Kings Head. The Cliffs of Moher are a must see, too, even though they are technically in Doolin. It is just easiest to get to the Cliffs from Galway. I went three times and they were different every single time!

-Doolin, Co. Clare: The Doolin Activity Lodge is a really nice place to stay and very reasonably priced. If you visit go to Gus O'Connors Pub. They will have real Irish music sessions complete with Irish folk songs sung spontaneously. Fitzgerald's is also delicious!

-Connemara, Co. Galway: I didn't get there but I really regret not seeing it. Kylemore Abbey is the main attraction there!

-Co. Wexford and Co. Wicklow: Glendalough is a cool monastic site and theres a lake called Lough (pronounced Lock) Tay thats known as Guinness Lake because the water is dark from peat and the sand is white so it looks like a Guinness. Your heritage card can be used here!

-Dingle, Co. Cork: This is a quiet little town that boasts a resident dolphin named Fungi (Fun-gee) who has lived in their harbor for over 20 years! We had a tour with our program so I did not take Bus Eireann so I'm not sure how the trip was with them. 

-New Grange and Hill of Tara, Co. Meath: It's very cool and you actually get to go inside NewGrange and the Hill of Tara has an awesome little cafe inside the shop. Very interesting if you enjoy history, I would recommend getting a tour because their histories are extensive. Your heritage card can also be used here!

Advice for Spending a Semester Studying Abroad in Ireland

A good friend of mine is going to be studying in Dublin in the spring and I wanted to put together a list of things for her to know from my experience. As I was typing it up I realized that it was information that many people could potentially use. So here is my advice on studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland.

Ha-Penny Bridge

These are entirely my opinion and are things that as a college-aged female I found helpful. If you have any further questions PLEASE ASK! I would love to answer questions!

1. Open an Irish bank account
-It takes about a week to set it up but it will save you the hassle of international interest charges, fluctuating exchange rates and the hassle that some Irish retailers don't know how to or cant accept American credit cards. Irish cards operate on a pin and chip system very different from ours. Most convenience stores, like Spar don't even accept American credit cards and you'll find your self needing to buy things like bus passes there often. At the end of the semester close it about a week before you leave and exchange all your euro at the GPO (General Post Office) on O'Connell St, they have the best exchange rates and don't charge a commission. There's an AIB (Anglo Irish Bank) right on UCD's campus.

2. Know if you need a converter and/or an adapter for your computer.
-Most computer cords have a converter already in them, those weird boxes, and only require an adapter. I didn't realize this and bought one unnecessarily. Some hair straighteners will work with European plus, just check the box.

3. Pack light.
-I'm serious. I did not and I regretted it because bag fees are darn expensive and I had to check THREE of them. There are many discount retailers in Ireland and abroad so you will for sure be buying things there. Umbrellas are unnecessary because its so windy but bring a good rain jacket and rain boots are also a great thing to bring, as they are hard to find in stores. I found layers to be the best option. At first it will be cold. I had a north face and a shell it zipped into, it was a good thing to have. Also bring a scarf, hat and gloves. February is a rough month. Bring a travel alarm clock and a watch. There are no clocks anywhere. Oh and learn to love the 24 hour system! It's not so hard, subtract 12. Also get used to converting Celsius in your head. And be prepared for Irish girls! They did tended to dress up considerably more than we did. If you don't want to be noticed as being American don't wear jeans out at night.

4. Know, Realistically How Much You Eat.
-Having never cooked or shopped for just myself I went way overboard on food and supplies in the first month or so and spent too much money. Produce and fresh things are expensive in Ireland because everything is imported. Also take note of milk's percent of fat. Whole milk in Ireland is nearly 10% fat. Also there is a really great farmers market right near Christ Church on Cows Lane in the spring! Also right off of Cow's Lane is the Queen of Tarts, a bakery/lunchery that is so, so delicious I would recommend it to everyone!

5. Bring reusable shopping bags and a backpack.
-It is a government mandate that all plastic bags cost 22 cents, consequentially everyone uses reusable ones which are more durable and eco friendly.  I brought a few with me and always used my backpack for the heavier items such as milk. My backpack was what I did all of my traveling with. It's easy to carry and you can generally fit enough in them. Also Ryan Air only allows them as carry ons if you are going to be traveling with them you would be well advised to have one with you. In addition be careful traveling with Ryan Air as they have many hidden fees and particularities. Many of my friends expressed the wish that they had spent the extra money to fly with Aer Lingus and save themselves the hassle of flying with Ryan Air.

6. Buy alcohol at tesco and drink before you go out.
-Drinks in bars can run you from 3 euro (very cheap beer like a Foster's) to 8 euro for a mixed drink (Jameson and ginger ale) and that can add up very very quickly especially if you are going out several times a week. Also you can buy "half pints" of beer if you dont want an entire one. Places to go: Dicys and Copper Faced Jacks were really popular but they were definitely more of a club scene. Theres a place called O'Neils on Suffolk Street that was more of a bar and we thought it really great, also Messrs and Maguires right over the O'Connell Bridge was good too.

7. Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Items.
-Bring cold medicine, Advil and things like that with you.Irish pharmacies are not like ours. They have very few options and they use different terminology. Also I brought shampoo and stuff like that with me because I'm particular.

8. Where to Buy Important Things Like Groceries and Clothes.
-Buy groceries at Tesco or Aldi. Buy clothes at Penny's. Marks and Spencer is another grocery store and they have great produce but are very expensive. They also have really good lunches for a decent price. 5 euro for lunch is the cheapest you'll find. Penny's was my favorite store in Ireland. They have an awesome shoe department (flats start at 3 euro) and an even better scarf department!

9. Being On "Irish Time"
-There is no such thing as "on time." Try not to get frustrated, that's how the whole city is. Except for Bus Eireann (the Irish equivalent of Greyhound) nothing is on time.

10. Irish Food
-Chips are fries. Crisps are potato chips. Learn to love tea. If you are a coffee drinker, I'm sorry. Their chocolate is amazing, notably Galaxy and try the other candy as its interestingly different. Food in restaurants is generally heavy. Go to Italy if you want good pizza. Irish Stew is ALWAYS a great bet. Also if you are a vegetarian-- I'm sorry, the Irish like their meat. For when you're on the go they have NutriGrain and Nature Valley bars almost identical to American ones. If you want peanut butter, make sure it is "American Style." There is no boxed mac and cheese. Don't buy the Ragu sauce, it's yucky. They don't have "alfredo" sauce, but they do have "white lasagna sauce." DON'T GET IT, it is gross. They also rarely have ricotta cheese at all, or if they do its expensive and comes in tiny portions. Their tuna is almost entirely dark meat. An "Irish Breakfast" is sausage, blood and white pudding (not my favorite) hash brown-like potatoes, eggs and toast. They do not put ice in anything so I hope you don't mind your water room temp. Also if you drink a lot of water bring a nalgene. Bottled water over there is extraordinarily expensive.

11. Public Transport
-Dublin bus is the way to go. But be careful it stops running at 11:30. All the buses will line up on O'Connell St and at 11:30 sharp they leave and don't pick up additional travelers. There is a late night bus but don't take it. After 11:30 cabs are the safest bet. Also don't sit on the top of the bus at night especially if you are alone. Buy the weekly STUDENT bus pass. They are so so worth it. Careful with the monthly because they are expensive and easily lost. You technically need a student traveler card (like an ID card you get at Dublin Bus on O'Connell) but most spars don't ask you for it. Sometimes the transit police will come on the buses and check passes and ID cards but if that happens just say you just got to Dublin and didn't know it was required. Or just spend the 12 euro. The Bus Eireann online system is confusing but once you figure it out, its great. The main terminal is right off the Liffey and it's called Busaras. Also always have your student ID with you because you get discounts and Bus Eireann requires it to get the student rate even if you bought the ticket online.

12. Beggars
-They are everywhere. They are much more noticeable in Dublin than in Boston. It's obviously a personal choice but I wouldn't give them money. Someone did a study and found that on average beggars in Dublin make over 100 euro a day!

13. Making phone calls.
-To dial TO the US FROM Ireland: 001 + the number. To dial TO IRELAND from the US you dial 011 + 353 + your phone number (making sure to drop the 0 that comes first).

14. The Irish Language, Government and Pronunciation
-"Irish" is the national language of Ireland. Every other country calls it Gaelic but there it's just "Irish." You'll see these on the buses and signs around the city, An Lar = City Center, As Serbhis = Out of Service. Also one of the most used slang words is "craic" pronounced crack. It means fun but can also be used as "Whats the craic?" or what's up. [bh= v sound ex. Cobh (cove) Siobhan (Shavon)]
-Also their government words are also in Irish. The Dail Eireann (pronounced Doy-ILL) is their parliament and their Taoiseach (tea-shock) is like a Prime Minister. They do have a president who has a more ceremonial position. Their main political parties are Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and the Labour Party. Fine Gael is pronounced finna gwael and loosely translated means the Tribe of Ireland. Fianna Fail is pronounced fina foil and means the Warriors of Destiny.
-Also their police force is the Garda Síochána (Gard-a shia-conna) literally translating into The Guardians of the Peace. A singular police man would be refered to as a Gardai (gardee, ai pronounced e.) An interesting fact is that the Garda are an unarmed police force!

15. Cellular Plans
-Get the same wireless plan as your friends. Since I have been there and experienced the different wireless carriers, I prefer Meteor. Also you can "top up" your phone (add money to it) at most ATMS! It's very convenient. Cell phones are referred to as mobiles.

-Dublin is the most accessible part of Ireland and buses are leaving and coming constantly. You have no excuse to stay in Dublin. Ireland is the size of South Carolina. Go West, South, and North. The country side is the true Ireland, Dublin is a city just like Boston or New York. Also I would recommend buying a Heritage Card. It's 8 euro and gets you into a TON of historic places free. You totally get your money's worth.

Update 6/23/14: Since I was in Ireland several years ago I'm sure a lot of things have changed. So I can't speak specifically to what it is like now, only what I experienced then but I'm happy to answer your questions!